Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge at Night

Cars (and a bicyclist on the left) cross the Lions Gate Bridge from Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia to/from North Vancouver at night.

traffic on the lions gate bridge at night from stanley park, vancouver

Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge from Stanley Park (Purchase)

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   I think that I photograph the Lions Gate Bridge from one angle or another every time I go to Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I just can’t resist. Yesterday I again tried photographing the bridge from this overpass on Stanley Park Drive. I’ve been here before, and pulled off a lucky (for me at the time) film shot of this about 10 years ago. Since making the move to digital I’ve never been quite happy with my results, or there simply hasn’t been enough traffic to make a nice long exposure trail from the headlights and tail lights. I think the key was not trying this at 1 am on a weekday this time around!

   If there is sufficient traffic you can do a few things to try to get a good light trail across the bridge. I usually count how long it takes the the cars to get out of sight from my end of the bridge, and see if I can have an exposure long enough to try to get the whole light trail. Completely forgot to do this last night but it worked out anyway. From the variations I made yesterday, this one was my favourite for a few reasons. First, you can see the faint outline of Grouse Mountain in the background – another benefit of not shooting this at 1am. Next, the light trails are mostly complete from one end of the bridge to the other, and there are even two lane changes that took place at exactly the right time to create a crossover. What is truly something I will be unlikely to replicate again is that dotted light trail you see coming up the left side of the bridge on the sidewalk. A cyclist was coming in our direction with a flashing headlight on his bike. I didn’t notice this at the time but upon reviewing my exposure noticed it in the LCD. I do think it adds a bit of uniqueness to most images I’ve made from this location.

More of my bridge photos can be found in my Bridges Gallery.

Downtown Vancouver During Blue Hour

Downtown Vancouver at dusk from Stanley Park – including Canada Place (left) and the new Trade and Convention Center.

downtown vancouver at dusk panorama from stanley park

Downtown Vancouver Panorama photographed during Blue Hour (Purchase)

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   I have photographed downtown Vancouver from Stanley Park a few times in the past – with fair but not spectacular results. When my first DSLR was new I would try to photograph the skyline well after sunset. At that time of day there isn’t much contrast between the dark buildings and the sky, so these photographs did not turn out very well. I learned that if you photograph during “Blue Hour” there will be much better contrast between the dark buildings and the sky – with much better results! Blue Hour is the period of time between total darkness in the sky and sunrise or sunset. Just like the “Golden Hour” this may not actually last an hour. In Vancouver at this time of year I think the blue hour lasted about 20 minutes facing southeast though there was still good blue light facing west for about another 10 minutes after that.

   This Panorama, taken during the blue hour after sunset, shows a dark sky but you can still see the profile of all the buildings. Much better than a photo taken when the sky is really dark!

   FYI – if you ever photograph downtown from Stanley Park near the Nine O’Clock Gun is the location I made this photograph. I was still there at 9 o’clock… with a few others who had gathered to hear its blast. Well, this isn’t a cap gun, the shockwave was dramatic even though I was standing 50 feet away. There were some tourists and teenagers who were standing right next to the wire cage that houses the gun, and one passerby tried to get them to plug their ears or step away from the thing as it was almost 9. This sage advice was ignored and when the gun went off there was a lot of screaming and even some tears due to the noise. If you are out there photographing near 9 o’clock and the red flashing lights go off – plug your ears!

My 10 Best Photos of 2011

reflection of mount shuksan in the silhouette of picture lake
Mount Shuksan Alpenglow

   It is always tough to narrow down a years worth of images into a list of the “best”. I did this last year and I think it is a valuable exercise. Jim Goldstein of JMG Galleries creates a list of everyone’s top 10 images each year. I made my first top 10 last year. This years list has fewer landscape and more wildlife photos. This is partly due to my not getting out to shoot as many landscapes as last year, and partly due to my backlog in image editing.

   You can click on each of the following images to go to the blog post that may tell a bit more about the location and how I made the photograph.

In no particular order my “Best of 2011″…

Read moreMy 10 Best Photos of 2011

North Vancouver Sulphur Works Panorama

Night panorama of the North Vancouver Sulphur Works from Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia

panorama of the north vancouver sulphur works from stanley park

North Vancouver Sulphur Works

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Panorama of the North Vancouver Sulphur Works from Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC.

I have always liked the view of the North Vancouver Sulphur Works from Stanley Park – especially at night. Always reminds me of a roller coaster that just dumps passengers into Burrard Inlet. I have an earlier panorama from this location in Stanley Park but it is not nearly as clear – owing to my old shaky tripod and lack of techniques such as a shutter release and mirror lockup.

Great Blue Heron in Stanley Park

a great blue heron - ardea herodias hunts-  along the seawall of stanley park

   About a month ago I was on the seawall in Stanley Park taking some shots of downtown Vancouver at night. Last time I attempted this my relatively cheap tripod was not up to the task of holding my camera steady (in portrait position) for 30 seconds at a time. The result was some decent shots, but others had a 30 second long vertical light streak through them due to tripod malfunction. Did I mention how much I like my Gitzo tripod?

   I had not expected that I was to be stalking any sort of birds at night. Thankfully though it was a Great Blue Heron ((Ardea herodias) which luckily tend to stand still for lengthy periods of time (or until you trigger the shutter). I guess this lulls the prey into a sense of complacency, at least temporarily. This is probably one of the few species that I would be able to find at night and that would stand still long enough for me to get a clear shot with shutter speeds of 1-2 seconds. That being said, this is one of the few clear shots of the 40 that I took. I like it – not my usual sort of photograph.

Lions Gate Bridge Panorama

panorama of lions gate bridge from stanley park

5 exposures stitched, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM @ 116mm

Panorama of the Lions Gate Bridge from Stanley Park. Lights in the background are in West Vancouver.

Drove to Stanley Park on Wednesday to get some night shots of downtown Vancouver. Now that I have a really nice tripod that can actually hold my camera steady for 30 seconds this was a lot easier than before. It became evident last year when I tried this that portrait shots on my old tripod were causing things to slip just slightly each time – which is quite evident on a 30 second+ exposure! On Wednesday there was a lot of construction on Stanley Park Drive including Brockton Point. This kept me away from the lighthouse but perhaps that was a good thing – it forced me to take this pano from further down the drive. I have never noticed this sort of reflection of the bridge lights on the water before – perhaps that is not as evident from the usual Brockton Point angle. Sometimes it is good to be forced to use new angles on a subject – and a reminder to seek those on my own.

A Brief Tour of Stanley Park

Wandered around Stanley Park in Vancouver a little a few weeks ago. The bright sunny morning turned out to be a bit of a challenge… but some turned out:

harryjeromestatue

brocktonpoint seawall1 brocktonpoint brocktonpoint brocktonpoint

And yes, I was “attacked” shortly after…

canadageese canadageese canadageese

coalharbour harryjeromestatue

They are going to cut this down as its a safety hazard now. Apparently they don’t want someone to get it across the head. Attractive blue fence ain’t it?

hollowtree

horsetour

I love this bridge:

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ionsgatebridgeseaplane lionsgatebridgeandgrouse lumbermansarch overhang seawall

Big storm a few winters ago just completely decimated this part of the park. Before there was no way you’d see the ocean from here…

stormdamag stormdamag